Archive for the ‘crafts’ Category

Me New China

view from ICA

Hooked up with Philip Dodd (of BBC Radio 3 arts and Made in China) fresh from an appointment with posh dim sum – that fella is seriously immersing himself in the culture. He spends about a third of his life these days on planes to and from Shanghai – his carbon footprint must be of Charlie Caroli proportions.

We were talking about taking the Big Art Mob to China which would be a real kick. I hope I can interest Buddy Ling Ye of Wang You Media in the initiative (Philip connected us last year) as the reach of his outfit is way beyond lil’ ol’ British dreams.

Alfie Dennen over at Moblog was up for the challenge of tinkering under the bonnet of Big Art Mob to take the baby on the road to China. (Which reminds me, I must ask Philip what it signifies that Made in China is based on Burma Road.)

Philip of course was formerly Director of the ICA which brings me neatly on to another highlight of the week – the Petcha Kutcha which launched the Cultural and Creative Leadership Mentoring Programme at the ICA on Tuesday evening. The programme is DCMS backed with Arts Council England, MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives) and London Development Agency support. I met my mentee for the first time, Caroline Bottomley of the Radar Festival, an annual competition and allied activities for emerging film-making talent centred on music promos (4Talent, by chance, features among their partners). I’ve only ever mentored very tall Afro-Caribbean 16 year olds before, at a comprehensive school round the corner from Channel 4, so this will be an interesting contrast.

Petcha Kutcha is a speaking format originated in Tokyo by Klein Dytham architecture. 20 speakers with 20 pictures each speak for 20 seconds per slide. It seems consistently to produce inspiring events. As a speaker, the parlour game aspect was highly enjoyable, encouraging a loose, free-flowing approach.

The people who charged my batteries this time included Sydney Levinson, a Creative Accountant, the first of this breed I’ve come across I could really call inspiring. He is Chair of Cockpit Arts and supports young creatives at the RCA, Crafts Council, etc. He seems to have had a left-field brush with punk (in the form of Generation X) and to love spreadsheets and music with equal passion, which can’t be a bad thing.

One of the speakers works out of Cockpit (and obviously loves her subsidised studio space there) – Annette Bugansky radiated the commitment of a genuine artist/craftswoman, explaining a lifetime of mastering her disciplines. She has melded an early career in tailoring and wardrobe (including cutting for Jean Muir) to a later flourishing in ceramics, in the form of white porcelain pots and other exquisitely pure pieces whose surface textures are created by literally dressing the moulds in fabric clothes before casting and painstakingly hand-finishing.

Contrasting masterly experience with youthful energy, Claire Louise Staunton was very endearing. She is the dynamo behind the Late Night Programmes at the Whitechapel Gallery, which appears to have been a hub in her lively career to date. She is interested in bringing sonic arts to museums, especially lesser known ones. (Note to self: hook Claire up with Martyn Ware if they aren’t already in touch).

Other colourful speakers included Victoria Bean with her art typographical books created at Arc, a collective of similarly oriented artists; Mark Downs of adult puppet theatre specialists Blind Summit; John Newbigin, formerly a colleague at Channel 4 and now co-trustee at 24 Hour Museum; Trudie Stephenson of Emineo Fine Art who was MD at County Hall Gallery and has evidently helped a lot of fine artists make the money they deserve.

To round off, the ever amiable Paul Bennun of Somethin’ Else took us through a day in his life – his 20th slide bringing us right up to the moment as he photographed the audience from the stage. Among the audience was Philip’s successor Ekow Eshun. And so the circle is closed.

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Mashist Groove Thang, or 14 Things I was Inspired by yesterday

Big Art Mob

Spoke at a really fun event last night – Quickfire organised by Katz Kiely’s Just B (which puts on the bTween interactive media conference every year in Yorkshire). It was a formatted event, Petchakutcha style – 14 slides for 30 seconds each, moving on automatically whether you’re ready or not. There’s something about this kind of format for speaking events which has made the ones I’ve experienced truly inspirational, at the very least very interesting and entertaining – and last night was no exception. I think it’s the combination of concision and parlour game.

Last night’s event was focused on the 13 areas which make up the Creative Industries in governmentspeak. There was one speaker for each area (with just a couple doubled up and with me as Television). The theme across the whole breadth was the impact of connectivity on the discipline in question.

So here are the 14 Things which Inspired me.

1. Advertising – Richard Adams / Chemistry

Not the Watership Down Richard Adams but an imposter who knows a lot about the way brands need to approach interactive media. I liked the term he used – “Mecast” – to capture the shift from broadcasting to active engagement with creative material (including advertising).

2. Architecture – Armand Terulli & Ghislaine Boddington / Body Data Space

I was taken with the glass roof they’d designed for a school in Kingston(?), London which detects light changes and alters the opacity accordingly – not in a uniform way but in a digitally designed pattern to cast a natural feeling pattern of shadows which looked like leaves in sunshine.

3/4. Television & Radio – Yours truly / Channel 4

I really got a buzz from the challenge of speaking in conjunction with an out-of-(my)-control automated set of images (as is my wont with Powerpoint, I only used pictures, no words). It appealed in its semi-improvised nature to the wannabe jazzer in me.

5/6. Art & Antiques – Fiddian Warman / Soda

Fiddian showed off the breadth of Soda’s work across pretty much all of the 13 sub-sectors (he struggled by his own admission with Fashion and had to make do with the sweat-shirts they sell bearing their designs). The huge Energy Ring in the Science Museum (which I haven’t yet seen in real-life) was impressive, as was the digital light display on the side of a tower in a North London school (Stoke Newington?) – I had no idea they had done this kind of work. I’m more familiar with the likes of the Irrepressible project they did for Amnesty which is one of the most purposeful mash-ups I’ve come across).

7. Computer Games – Charles Cecil / Revolution

Charming Charles, decendent of Robert of Elizabethan fame, gave a fantastic overview of the Games industry in a mere 840 seconds. I liked the look of Broken Sword 1 which I’ve never played but reminded me of retro bandes-desinees like Yves Chaland. Pictures of Charles’ juvenalia from the era of the ZX Spectrum were particularly inspirational – the man’s been living Games for a long time now.

8. Crafts – James Boardwell / Rattle

The interface between digital technology and crafts I know nothing about so this was a great (global) trip. One image showed craft creations inspired by some Manga-style PlayStation game ranging from ear muffs to a pink cake! You gotta love it.
There were some convincing reflections on the contrast between the speed of the digital age and the slowness of Craft – there’s no doubt we can all use some Slow Time. I’ve noticed that a significant proportion of people who leave the new media industry go off to do stuff like horticulture and carpentry.

9. Design – Kristina Nyzell / Lego

This one just reminded me of happy hours playing Lego in my room in Selvage Lane – although apparently “it’s not a toy” – brands, dontcha just love ’em?

10. Film – Matt Hanson / Swarm of Angels

An interesting attempt to create a user-generated feature film based on subscriptions from participants. Apparently though “there has to be a head chef in the kitchen and that’s me!” Can’t beat benign dictatorship to get stuff done. Reminds me of the scene in Channel 4’s documentary about Findhorn a couple of years ago where the hippies were trying to design a leaflet collectively – never happened til the designer took the law in his own hands. Swarm makes an interesting comparison with the current MyMovieMashup project from FilmFour, MySpace and Vertigo Films. Also with Michaela Ledwidge’s Sanctuary project at Mod Films. So my inspiration here was the memory of the last movie I watched, last weekend, Walk on Water which was a good entertaining and moving film made in pretty much the normal way without that much cash.

11. Music – Martyn Ware / Illustrious

Who’d have thought when I went in to buy that 7″ of Fascist Groove Thang all those years ago that one day I’d be sharing a stage with the cuddly Martyn Ware, founder member of the Human League, Heaven 17er, and unflagging champion of interactive audio. We used to do the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment committee together when we were young&foolish. He gave me the low-down on that Bruce Nauman sonic installation at Tate Modern – sounds like it was pretty much the audio equivalent of Jeff Koons, most of it made (very badly in Martyn’s ears) by the hired help. You can catch Mr Ware on his Future of Sound tour on 12th April out East at Queen Mary, University of London. Hoping to include some of his work as the first example of sonic public art in my Big Art Mob mobile blogging project launching next month. [test design above]

12. Performing Arts – Kelli Dipple / Tate

This speaker didn’t play the game because she had had to step into the breach at the eleventh hour – there was no synchronisation between words and pictures. So the pleasure in this one lay in the energy of the performance, which was as it should be for the subject.

13. Publishing – Mike Butcher / Mbites

Mike gave a quickfire history of publishing from an aboriginal cave painting via the Gutenberg bible and sufragette pamphleteering (which he likened to this very act of blogging) to Marconi and Logie Baird, to whom I suppose I owe more than the occasional admiring reflection as I walk past the John Baird public house. I enjoyed the link to the lost art of pamphleteering and will think further on it.

And my fourteenth inspiration to round off? The enjoyment of analogue connectivity in a big room with wine and cake. The room where I first came across Alfie Dennen, setting off the chain of connection which has resulted in the Big Art Mob. The room where I talked acoustics with Martyn Ware (including of the Whispering Gallery in Saint Paul’s where I proposed) and where I talked swing bands with Katz who is paying me for the gig in music.

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